You brush and floss daily and visit your dentist regularly. So you’re doing your duty to maintain your oral hygiene, right? Well, not exactly. Keeping your chompers in tip-top shape may require a little more effort. Fortunately, the tweaks needed for upping your oral-health game won’t require more time—they’ll help you make the most of the work you’re already dedicating to caring for your pearly whites.
Why Oral Hygiene Matters
Oral health is about more than sporting the whitest teeth or the best-smelling smile. Keeping your mouth healthy can safeguard your body from a variety of issues. For example, researchers have found that gum disease is associated with an increased risk for heart disease; it can make heart conditions worse; and it may play a role in your risk for stroke. For women who are pregnant, gum disease can lead to complications such as premature birth or low-birth weight babies. Keeping your mouth healthy can keep your body well, too.
4 Ways to Step Up Your Oral Hygiene
- Brush longer. Not only are you supposed to brush twice a day, but you should keep those bristles moving for two minutes each time. Wait at least 60 minutes after eating before brushing, especially if you’ve had something acidic such as grapefruit or soda. Brushing too soon can cause dental erosion in which the hard surface of your teeth wears away.
- Update your toothbrush. Whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush, replace your toothbrush every three or four months or sooner. A frayed toothbrush won’t scrub your teeth as thoroughly as a newer one.
- Floss this way. A quick dip between your teeth doesn’t do the trick. Guide floss between your teeth with a gentle rubbing motion. When it reaches the gums, curve it into a C shape around one tooth and slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth. Repeat for all your teeth.
- Rinse. When used alongside brushing and flossing, mouthwash offers additional benefits such as protecting against cavities and gum disease and may help with dry mouth or painful oral sores. Look for a mouthwash with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval and follow the label’s instructions for whether to use before or after brushing.
Finally, eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water are key for healthy teeth and gums, too.